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Saibal Chatterjee: Stars and the cancer scare
March 09, 2013
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FOR ANY HIGH-PROFILE SHOWBIZ PERSONALITY WHO WORKS ON A TIGHT SCHEDULE, THE DREADED DISEASE IS BOUND TO BE A HUGE DOWNER. IT REQUIRES CONSTANT MEDICAL MONITORING AND INTENSIVE TREATMENT, LEADING TO A FORCED, BUT NECESSARY, BREAK FROM PROFESSIONAL COMMITMENTS
 
Pop singer and songwriter Anastacia, 44, was recently forced to call off her upcoming United Arab Emirates performance and European ‘A Man’s World’ Tour after being diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time in a decade.

Dispelling the understandable concern of her fans worldwide, the diminutive entertainer announced that, despite the illness, she would continue writing and recording her new album, adding that she hoped to schedule a new world tour at the earliest possible.

For any high-profile showbiz personality who works on a tight schedule, the dreaded disease is bound to be a huge downer. It requires constant medical monitoring and intensive treatment, leading to a forced, but necessary, break from professional commitments.

However, the entertainment industry has known many brave cancer survivors who have contributed to awareness about the disease and about the need for proactive and regular health check-ups to facilitate early detection.

Nearly a decade ago, Academy Award-winning actor Robert De Niro, now 69, beat prostate cancer because it was caught early enough for the treatment to take complete effect. The Raging Bull made full recovery and continued to feature in major movie roles. De Niro was last seen in 2012’s Oscar-nominated Silver Linings Playbook.

More recently, actress Melanie Griffiths, 55, best known for her performance in Working Girl, underwent surgery to remove early stages of skin cancer from her face. The actor, married to Antonio Banderas, has not been seen on the big screen since the operation in 2009, but her television work has kept her busy. Many other cancer-stricken showbiz celebrities – Anastacia herself fought off cancer in 2003 – have bounced back in recent times and resumed their careers without a hitch. The American singer would certainly know what it takes to hold firm in the face of a challenge of this nature.

As would actor Christina Applegate, 41-year-old breast cancer survivor, who went through double mastectomy in 2008. She returned to the movie sets after a brief lull. She is due to play a starring role in the 2013 sequel to Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, a comedy film made in 2004.

The media coverage of the surgery was excessive and Applegate later admitted that she suffered a “total emotional collapse”. But she pulled herself together and emerged as one of the most visible faces of the breast cancer awareness campaign.

Other celebrities have been in similar situations. Australian-born pop princess Kylie Minogue, 44, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005, but she survived a harrowing battle that played out amid intense media coverage as she underwent treatment in a Melbourne hospital.

British soul singer Adele, 24, sparked panic among her fans when she went in for throat microsurgery in late 2011. It was an operation performed for a hemorrhaged vocal cord. But rumours quickly gained ground to the effect that she had throat cancer, compelling her and her reps to issue vehement denials.

But Adele did have to cancel two concert tours so that her voice would have the rest that it needed. She recovered apace and made her live comeback in less than six months. And within a year she was writing the theme song of the latest and 23rd James Bond film, Skyfall. It fetched the singer an Oscar for the Best Original Song.

The Oscar-winning film actor and producer Michael Douglas, 68, who was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2010 weeks before the release of Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps, is now believed to be completely out of the woods.

He is due to play Ronald Reagan in Reykjavik, an upcoming indie film about the 1986 summit in the Icelandic capital between the US President and Soviet Union’s Mikhail Gorbachev against the backdrop of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. The film is to be helmed by Brit director Mike Newell.

Douglas, married to Welsh star Catherine Zeta-Jones since 2000, is also scheduled to play legendary pianist Liberace in Behind the Candelabra, a biopic being helmed Steven Soderbergh and co-starring Matt Damon. Veteran English actor Sir Ian McKellen has been battling prostate cancer since 2006. But the X-Men and Lord of the Rings star has continued to be active on the stage and the screen, appearing to great acclaim especially in Bristish independent films.

Filipina singer and actress Zsa Zsa Padilla, 48, is a kidney cancer survivor. She was diagnosed last year. After surgery, it was confirmed that the tumour was not malignant. But she had to endure a five-and-a-half hour operation.

Toronto-born Indian-Canadian model and actress Lisa Ray, too, has survived a major cancer scare. She was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the white blood cells that is generally regarded as incurable.

A stem-cell transplant saved the life of the star of Deepa Mehta’s Oscar-nominated Water. The 40-year-old actress, who has worked in films around the world since making her debut in Hindi cinema in the mid 1990s, is now cancer-free and back in circulation. More power to her!  

 

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